Ciara Stockeland’s father and grandfather set the entrepreneurial groundwork that inspired her to start a family business of her own. Her first shop, maternity store Mama Mia, made way for MODE next door: the temporary retail space set up to liquidate overstock product caught on in Stockeland’s Fargo community. In 2008, Mama Mia and MODE merged to carry high-end maternity wear and discounted designer brands.
Stockeland and her husband, Jim, planned to open three MODE locations in five years. But increasing requests about franchising led the pair to open the concept to franchisees in 2011.
“My SCORE mentors have been my sounding board, my advisory council, my team,” Stockeland says. “I am so thankful I have had the opportunity to visit with mentors on an ongoing basis.” Stockeland believes her business avoided many pitfalls because she called on SCORE even before she opened her first location.
SCORE mentors assisted Stockeland in examining the franchising options available, and she ultimately chose “granting” franchises rather than selling them to whoever has the cash to buy in. “We are in business to make sure that each MODE franchisee loves their business as much in 10 years as they did the day they signed,” she says.
Since 2011, the MODE franchise has grown from one location to 11 across the Midwest and in South Carolina. “At MODE I believe that with each franchisee I am given the opportunity to develop a leader,” Stockeland says. “We mentor, train and work with our franchisees to create a successful business in their community. We want them to grow in their leadership skills so that they too can give back to other entrepreneurs.” MODE received the 2015 SCORE Awards Outstanding Franchise Small Business Award.